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About ourselves, those over there

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With DD Phiri:

As the taxi driver was constantly changing routes towards the Trade Fair Grounds to avoid crowds and other motor vehicles, I asked how this crowd and traffic jam had come about. The taxi driver replied that the crowd was made of Joyce Banda’s people. She still has a big following.

But how much can we read out of the sizes of crowd rallies? During the last election campaign, Banda was drawing the most impressive crowds but Peter Mutharika went to the presidential palace with 36 percent of the vote while JB was a second runner-up after Lazarus Chakwera.

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So many candidates have gone to present their nomination papers that I have lost count. Most of them are just making use of the liberty that multi-party democracy offers. The real tussle is between Mutharika, Chakwera, JB, Chilima and Atupele Muluzi. Of these, Chilima enters the foray for the first time. Can he become the Macron of Malawi? His choice of Michael Usi as running mate is wise. Usi dislikes regionalism and tribalism. Too many candidates sometimes confuse voters as to who really matters.

The President of Senegal, Macky Sall, put through Parliament a law that limits the number of presidential candidates. As a result, in January, that country’s constitutional court released names of only five candidates for the next election, the lowest in three decades. His Senegalese critics think his aim is to sail through the minimum fifty percent without a rerun.

Are spectable British magazine has also described shortening the candidate list as undemocratic. But, in old Anglo Saxon democracies, how many parties and how many candidates contest. In Britain, we hear of the Conservative Labour and Liberals. In the United States, we hear of the Republicans and the Democrats. The fewer the parties, the easier it is to see their distinctiveness and, therefore, to make up one’s mind as regards which one to choose.

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***

In has not been easier for Prime Minister Thesesa May to rule and guide the people of Britain than it was for Queen Maria Theresa of Austria to rule and guide the people there.

Theresa May had worked hard with her advisers to extract what she considered the best terms from the European Union. In Parliament, those who in the referendum had voted ‘leave’ and those who had voted ‘remain’ combined and rejected the proposal.

The British Parliament knows what it dislikes but does it know what it likes? Respectable British magazines say what remains is to find out what people feel. They demand a second referendum without which, perhaps, there might occur some violence between those who voted ‘remain’ and those who voted ‘leave’. Can political violence occur in a mature democracy like Britain? Two or three years ago, I read of a woman who was assassinated for her political views.

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